Saturday, November 13, 2010

Graphic novel, anyone?

I've registered for a course this spring on graphic novels - never read (have I even seen?) one. Have you read any?

I'm still working my way through the Doc Ford series set in Florida; however, "working" isn't really an appropriate word to use, since they are such fast reads. Fun to watch the characters develop with each book (there are 17 and I'm beginning #6). Then just before we leave for Key West, I will re-read a Hemingway title....

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Beekeepers Apprentice

I just finished reading The Beekeepers Apprentice by Laurie R. King.  The book is long, written in the style of a Victorian novel and set in the English countryside.  I must admit I nearly gave up reading this book, the first quarter is so slow and the set up is painfully plodding.  I did read the entire book and no, I will not read the rest of the series.

The story picks up with Sherlock Holmes living a quiet retirement in the countryside, keeping bees and writing treatises on all things detective.  He meets a young woman, newly orphaned and becomes her mentor.  They have a number of adventures and solve a series of crimes.  The characters both detectives and villains are impossibly brilliant, just as you would expect and the scenes of British countryside make me want to travel.  Still, I will not give this book any endorsement, save your reading time for something more entertaining.

I recently finished listening to Russian Winter by Daphne KalotayThis is a love story about a Russian Ballerina, her life, the Bolshoi and her defection.  Each chapter starts with a description of a piece of jewelry she is auctioning off and then within the chapter you find out how she came to have that bauble.  Pretty good story, I would read another book by Ms. Kalotay.

I'm currently reading the second book of a series about Mrs. Pollifax, The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax. I'll let you know what I think!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

More All Time Favorite Books

First, a confession: I just discovered the last several posts to the blog. Now I'm posting two of my own (plus a comment) in my extra hour this weekend . . . What's funny is that I was walking with Elizabeth and commented that no one had posted on this blog for a long time, and she said she had just urged people to write what they were reading. I remembered a post of hers a couple of weeks back and said I had commented, but she said no. I was confused. Well, it turns out that when I was refreshing the blog (I left a tab open with it) I was just refreshing the October page, so I didn't get any of the November posts. Argh!

My all-time favorite book is East of Eden, by John Steinbeck. Rachel put Grapes of Wrath up as one of her all-time favorites. I read that in high school, and it started my Steinbeck phase. I read most of his books then. About two years ago I was looking for a book to read at the library, and decided to look on the Oprah's Picks shelves. I found East of Eden, and realized there was a Steinbeck book I had never read. I loved it (well, at least after the first few hundred pages where not much seemed to happen). It really made me think about what's important in life.

Some other favorites:

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. I love everything about this book.

The Left Hand of Darkness, and The Dispossessed, by Ursula Le Guin. Another author I fell in love with in high school.

The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls. A fascinating memoir of life as a child of parents who were a bit crazy, lived a very poor lifestyle, and ran from one place to the next to escape debt or other trouble.

Leaving Mother Lake, by Yang Erche Namu and Christine Mathieu. See other post about this one. No, I don't read a lot of memoirs, but they do seem to number among my favorites.

Hmmm . . . interesting . . . all of these authors, except Steinbeck, are women . . .

Book Club group reading suggestion

Elizabeth suggested that maybe in the winter we might all read a book and discuss it like a real book club (which I've never done, BTW). I thought we could start making suggestions about a book to read.

One suggestion I have is "Leaving Mother Lake" by Yang Erche Yamu and Christine Mathieu. I read it a few years ago (and would be happy to read it again). It's about a girl in a remote Chinese culture, the Mosu, which is a matrilineal society (women make most decisions). I found it to be a fascinating look at an isolated, unusual culture, and a well-told tale of a girl breaking away from the bonds of her family and her culture. Here's a nice review:

What are some books you might suggest?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

All Time Favorite Books

Since I’m not reading anything all that compelling at the moment, I’m curious to know what books are your very favorites of all time. Bonus points for convincing me to read them too!

My very favorites:

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
I actually love everything by Steinbeck (would love to do one of those Steinbeck tours!), but this one in particular has been one of my favorite books since having to read it in 10th grade English class.

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
This is pretty dense reading with all of the digressions into politics and history and religious controversies of the 14th century, but is well worth the effort for a fantastic murder mystery set in a monastic library.

Possession by A. S. Byatt
This is just an absolutely brilliant book for the way she creates two fictional Victorian writers and a whole body of work for them, and then places them within the real literary world of the day. I also read her most recent novel, The Children’s Book, and think I may have loved it as much as Possession, but will have to reread to make sure.

Honorable Mentions:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Not entirely unlike a Steinbeck subject, only with an urban setting, female main character, and unambiguously happy ending.

Reindeer Moon by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
I’m actually a little embarrassed by the number of times I have reread this book about prehistoric Siberia. I’ve never read The Clan of the Cave Bear, but my anthropologist mother swears that this one is much better.

I’m tempted to go on and on! Maybe I’ll do a follow-up with best reads of the past few years because I can already think of a whole additional list.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

just title and author

OK, we're all busy. And many of us are eating or avoiding our kids' Halloween candy. But I know you have a book open. . .

so just check in quickly, in comments or in a post of your own, with one book that you're reading right now, just title and author -- and category if you so choose). I'll start:

The Not-So-Big Life, by Sarah Susanka (nonfiction)